Look for our fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings, hitter upgrades and downgrades daily to help you make smart fantasy baseball lineup decisions and for MLB betting tips. MLB game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is geared towards ESPN 10-team leagues with standard scoring.
Note: This file has been updated with any overnight pitching changes or weather-related game postponements, along with the addition of the latest MLB game odds as of the indicated time of publication.
What you need to know for Thursday's MLB Games
By Mike Sheets
Thursday's 13-game slate is headlined by Hunter Greene (28% rostered in ESPN leagues), who was dominant against a tough St. Louis Cardinals lineup in his first start off the IL on Saturday, firing six scoreless frames with a career-high 11 strikeouts, zero walks, and only four hits allowed. He showed no lingering effects from his right shoulder strain, as he averaged 100.7 mph with his four-seamer, which generated 13 swings and misses. When his control wanes, Greene can get into trouble, but he's one of the game's most dominant young pitchers when everything is clicking. Against a Milwaukee Brewers club that's fanning 26.2% of the time in September, Greene is one of the most intriguing streaming options on the slate.
Ho-hum, just another week where George Kirby (64%) is criminally under-rostered. We've already highlighted the young right-hander multiple times in this space, so here's a quick recap: Since July 1, Kirby owns a 2.09 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 over his last 12 starts. During that stretch, he's surrendered more than two earned runs only once (3 ER), and he hasn't issued more than one walk in a start all season. Among hurlers with at least 110 innings pitched, Kirby's 8.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks best in baseball. If he's available in your league, pick him up and start him against an inept Oakland A's offense on Thursday.
Mitch Keller's (7%) stuff doesn't compare to Greene or Kirby's, but he's still established himself as a quality streamer, posting a 3.17 ERA since the All-Star break. And he's not simply taking advantage of favorable matchups, as he's spun four straight quality starts, with two coming against the New York Mets and one against the Cardinals. On Thursday, Keller gets a favorable draw against the Chicago Cubs, who have been a bottom-five offense (82 wRC+, .285 wOBA) over the last 30 days.
Many top-end prospects make it to the majors and struggle initially, but that hasn't been the case for Gunnar Henderson (30%). Since his promotion in late August, the 21-year-old has put up a .324/.378/.574 slash line with three homers and a steal in 22 games. That impressive stat line is backed up by a 49% hard-hit rate and 10.2% barrel rate, which would rank top-10 in baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Thursday's matchup against Justin Verlander obviously isn't a great spot for the rookie, but Henderson is still a great pick-up for the season's final two weeks (and even moreso if your league has a keeper component).
Thursday's Coors Field matchup features the San Francisco Giants visiting the Colorado Rockies. Colorado's starter, Jose Urena, has really struggled with the thin air, sporting a 6.57 ERA at Coors this season. He's been particularly brutal in the second half, getting tagged for a 7.17 ERA in 11 starts. Most of the Giants' bats are widely available in ESPN leagues, but Joc Pederson (58%), Mike Yastrzemski (51%) and David Villar (1%), who has 33 dingers between Triple-A and the majors this year, are the top names to consider.
Starting pitcher rankings for Thursday
Best Sub-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Best and worst hitters from the day are generated by THE BAT X, a projection system created by Derek Carty using advanced methods like those used in MLB front offices, accounting for a variety of factors including player talent, ballparks, bullpens, weather, umpires, defense, catcher pitch-framing, and lots more.
Brandon Crawford (SF, SS -- 37%) at Urena
Evan Longoria (SF, 3B -- 2%) at Urena
Jose Miranda (MIN, 3B -- 35%) at Heasley
Gio Urshela (MIN, 3B -- 24%) at Heasley
Worst Over-50% Rostered Hitters for Thursday
Chris Taylor (LAD, CF -- 58%) vs. Gallen
Gavin Lux (LAD, SS -- 54%) vs. Gallen
Andrew Vaughn (CHW, LF -- 79%) vs. Bieber
Trevor Story (BOS, SS -- 89%) at Taillon
THE BAT X's Best Stacks for Saturday
Prop of the Day
George Kirby pitching outs: Over/Under 16.5 (-115/-120)
THE BAT sees Kirby putting up 18.8 pitching outs for this matchup on average, while projecting him to exceed his player prop total 65.8% of the time. THE BAT believes there is positive value on the OVER with an expected value of $26.40.
Note: Expected Value is a measure of how good a bet is, factoring the probability that it will win versus the odds the book is providing. If you were to wager $1.00 100 times on a bet with an Expected Value of $25, you would win some and you would lose some, but in the end you would expect to come away with $25 in profit on your $100 investment.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE OVER
THE BAT projects Kirby in the 92nd percentile when estimating his overall pitching talent level.
The Oakland Athletics projected offense projects as the second-worst of the day.
The Athletics have been the ninth-luckiest offense in the majors this year, according to THE BAT X, and are likely to perform worse in the future.
Oakland Coliseum ranks as the No. 27 venue in the game for batting average, per THE BAT projection system.
FACTORS THAT FAVOR THE UNDER
The weatherman calls for the fifth-best hitting weather of the day, as it relates to temperature and humidity.